I Wish I Didn’t Have to Tell You This, But….

…Some interviews you do may never run.

Lately we’ve been focusing on various aspects about doing interviews and working with journalists in Christian media.

Today we are going to talk about something I don’t think I’ve ever actually said to my author clients, but it’s an unfortunate reality of this work we all do together.

It’s painful to say, and doesn’t happen all that often but …

…it’s possible that not all your interviews are going to air.

This isn’t necessarily a reflection on you. Sometimes interviews just don’t work out. Maybe the audio was bad. Maybe they fill up their schedule for the time they need to fill before they get to yours. Perhaps the journalist was fighting a cold and decides she can’t stand how she sounds. And yes, sometimes – but honestly, rarely — interviews just don’t turn out that well.

As a publicist, it’s my job to be an author’s contact with the media both to schedule and to follow up afterwards to get a hint about when an interview will run.

If you are working on your own, of course you are doing that part of the work for yourself, which is the main reason we’re talking about it today.

And there are a couple of points I’d like to make about this.

It’s a delicate dance following up without being too persistent, and then there are differences between how media outlets operate.

In my experience, if you are contacted by a media outlet for a specific interview date that’s within a month of when they contact you, it’s likely that interview will run within a month or so after the interview. If the show has a staff person (they go by various titles) who coordinates the interviews, they will likely get back to you with the air date.

However, some shows are coordinated by the show host, no staff, and some shows book interviews months in advance for air dates even further out.

And then there are the interviews that occur at trade shows, like NRB and CPE, the Christian book show. Journalists there do as many as 30 interviews in the space of a few days. It’s a lot to keep track of on their end, just doing the interviews. Then when they get back to the office, they have to review, edit, and schedule the interviews.

Possibly on top of doing a daily show that goes on regardless.

Particularly with trade shows, know it will likely be months before interviews will start to get scheduled.

One other idea to consider is asking ahead of time, while your interview details are being sorted out, how soon they typically air interviews and when it would be OK to follow up with them. Then take careful notes and stick to that.  

Christian journalists are fellow believers, which usually means they are going to be nicer to you than other journalists might be. They tolerate more than I ever expected authors contacting them after the interview to ask when it is going to air, and they do understand we all want and need to know that. But to be honest, their main responsibility, often to an employer, is to get the interview and get it aired.

Answering emails about the previous interviews and keeping the guest or their publicist up to date is a courtesy.

Generally, they prefer working with a third party, a publicist, because publicists understand a bit more about the process and ask fewer questions so it takes less of their time.

And that brings me to a related point I have said before that I believe is quite important to understand.

In working with Christian media, in several significant ways, you aren’t equals.

In an earlier article, I spoke about this with regard to being respectful of a journalist’s time, especially around scheduling interviews.

This time I’d like to expand that a bit to discuss how we interact with journalists and what I believe are appropriate expectations.

First of all, if you are blessed enough to be invited for an interview, that’s huge. That means out of all the hundreds of other people clamoring for their attention, the media is interested in you. That’s a real blessing, and does signify something significant about you.

But please keep this in perspective.

You are receiving the blessing from very busy, likely overworked folks who are trying to juggle getting all their recorded interviews edited and ready to be used while still doing other work.

If after asking politely by email when the interview will air and not getting a response, you might start thinking they owe you a response.

This is where I would argue you aren’t equals. You can ask, and possibly ask a second time a month or two later, but they don’t owe you anything, harsh as that may sound.

I’d wait at least another month or two before contacting a third time. But then — I would stop contacting them.

One additional point – as I mentioned, journalists prefer working with authors who have publicists because we understand a bit more about their world and how best to follow up and coordinate details. If you feel you might benefit from considering this, I’m happy to schedule a get-acquainted call with you. Just reply to this email or write through the contact form on the Buoyancy website.

I’ll repeat in closing this thought I’ve shared here before. Whether in person or via email and phone, be respectful of a journalist’s time and enjoy the privilege of being part of the world where news stories are created and shared, and getting to share yours.

Originally sent as an email to the Buoyancy community on October 27, 2023.
Joni Sullivan Baker
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